His right hand held high, Obama recited the 35-word oath and officially launched the second four years of his presidency. He was surrounded by first lady Michelle Obama and his daughters Malia and Sasha in the Blue Room, which overlooks the South Lawn.
“I do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute the office of president of the United States, and will to the best of my ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States,” Obama said, repeating after Roberts. The president’s left hand rested on a the Robinson bible, which the first lady’s father gave to her grandmother on Mother’s Day in 1958.
“Congratulations, Mr. President,” Roberts said, shaking Obama’s hand.
“Thank you, Mr. Chief Justice. Thank you so much,” Obama said.
Turning to the first lady, he could be heard saying: “Thank you, sweetie.” He then hugged daughters Malia and Sasha.
“Good job, daddy,” Sasha, 11, told her father. “I did it,” he said back to her. “You didn’t mess up,” she said back to him, before Obama led his family out of the room.
The ceremonial inauguration will take place Monday at the Capitol. Sunday’s swearing-in took place instead at the White House because while new terms constitutionally begin at noon on Jan. 20, American tradition is not to hold the full pomp and circumstance of inaugurations on Sundays. Bill Clinton’s second inaugural, in 1997, was also held on Jan. 21 because the 20th fell on a Sunday.
A small pool of journalists was in the room to witness the oaths, and the ceremony was also broadcast live.
The president’s half sister Auma Obama was there with her daughter. Malia and Sasha’s godmother, Eleanor Kaye Wilson, was there with her husband. The chief justice’s wife, Jane Roberts, was also in the room. White House press secretary Jay Carney stood behind the reporters and photographers in the room.
Roberts will again administer the oath at noon on Monday. Obama will rest his hand on two bibles — one used by Abraham Lincoln at his first inaugural and another that Martin Luther King, Jr., carried when he traveled. Monday is also the federal holiday celebrating King’s life and fight for civil rights.
As Obama and Roberts stood face-to-face on Sunday, the specter of the 2009 oath loomed as it will again on Monday. Four years ago, the chief justice jumbled a few words in the oath and Obama stumbled to correct the lines as he repeated them back. Administration lawyers ultimately decided to hold another swearing in the next day to ensure that there would be no objections that, constitutionally, Obama was president.
After Obama won re-election in November, he and Roberts exchanged a copy of the text of the oath, in hopes there will be no mistakes this time around.